A Comparison of Osteoblast and Osteoclast In Vitro Co-Culture Models and Their Translation for Preclinical Drug Testing Applications

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Jan 30;21(3):912. doi: 10.3390/ijms21030912.


As the population of western societies on average ages, the number of people affected by bone remodeling-associated diseases such as osteoporosis continues to increase. The development of new therapeutics is hampered by the high failure rates of drug candidates during clinical testing, which is in part due to the poor predictive character of animal models during preclinical drug testing. Co-culture models of osteoblasts and osteoclasts offer an alternative to animal testing and are considered to have the potential to improve drug development processes in the future. However, a robust, scalable, and reproducible 3D model combining osteoblasts and osteoclasts for preclinical drug testing purposes has not been developed to date. Here we review various types of osteoblast-osteoclast co-culture models and outline the remaining obstacles that must be overcome for their successful translation.

Keywords: co-culture; drug testing; in vitro model; osteoblast; osteoclast; osteoporosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bone Remodeling / drug effects*
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical*
  • Humans
  • Osteoblasts / cytology*
  • Osteoblasts / drug effects
  • Osteoclasts / cytology*
  • Osteoclasts / drug effects
  • Osteoporosis / drug therapy*


  • Bone Density Conservation Agents